Michael Prescott: Last Breath

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Michael Prescott Last Breath
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    Last Breath
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Last Breath: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Drunk and crazy with a gun, C.J. thought. Terrific. “What kind of gun?”

“It is, how you say, six-shooter.”

“A handgun? Like this?” C.J. tapped the Beretta 9mm bolstered to her right hip.

Maria Sanchez nodded. “Like that, but old, an old gun he got from no-good friend.”

“And he tried to shoot you with it?”

Frantic nodding. “Point it at me, and I run out the door. But he still in there. He got Emilio. I no have time to grab him.”

“Emilio?” C.J. asked, hoping it was a dog.

“ Mi nino!”

My boy. This was getting better and better.

“How old is Emilio?” C.J. asked.

“ Seis -six months.”

“We’re gonna need backup,” Brasco said abruptly. Tension had pulled his broad, pockmarked face into a stiff mask. “This isn’t no goddamn four-fifteen. It’s an ADW that’s turned into a hostage-barricade.”

“Let’s see if we can talk to him first.” C.J. didn’t wait for Brasco’s reply. She asked Mrs. Sanchez if her husband spoke English, and when the answer was yes, she rapped on the front door, raising her voice. “Mr. Sanchez, this is the police. Open up, please. We need to talk to you.”

Silence from inside.

“Mr. Sanchez, we just want to talk.”


“Open the door, Mr. Sanchez.” She tested the knob and noted that it did not turn. Locked. “This is the police. Open up and let us talk to you, okay?”

Still no response.

“Fuck this,” Brasco said. “I’m calling it in. We need SWAT down here with a CNT.”

C.J. nodded, but she wasn’t happy about it She didn’t want to bring Metro SWAT into this. What had started as a drunken dispute could end up in a bloodbath.

She heard Brasco on the radio while she gathered additional information from Maria Sanchez. Layout of the house, possible exits, time elapsed since she fled the residence. Brasco came back and reported, “ETA ten minutes for another squad, thirty or more for SWAT and a negotiator.”

C.J. pointed toward the back of the house. “There’s a rear window. I’d better cover it. You watch the front door.”

“Okay. Hey, C.J., you’re just gonna watch the window, right?”

“Right,” she said, though she wasn’t at all certain what she would do.

And now it was decision time.

She could wait by the window until another A-car arrived, then wait much longer for the SWAT boys to get here with the negotiator. When Ramon Sanchez learned he was surrounded, he might surrender-or put the gun to Emilio’s head and pull the trigger.

And if SWAT went in…

Five men with machine guns bursting into this tiny house, screaming orders, ready to fire at any shadow…

The baby shrieked louder.

C.J. made up her mind. She tried to ignore the trickle of sweat down her back as she drew her Beretta and climbed through the window.


When she dropped onto the cot, the springs creaked, but she was pretty sure the sound was inaudible in the front room, drowned out by the baby’s cries.

C.J. shifted her service pistol into a two-handed combat stance. She didn’t want to use the gun. Only once in her three years on the force had she shot anybody, and even then, the injury hadn’t been fatal. She didn’t deserve the damn nickname the other Newton cops had given her, and she didn’t want to start living up to it now.

The baby began to sob.

She eased herself off the cot and planted both shoes on the floor. The bedroom was minuscule, and the front room couldn’t be much larger. She estimated the home’s total floor space at less than five hundred square feet. A few steps would carry her through the doorway, into the red zone.

The red zone. That was what Walt Brasco called it, Walt the football fan, in reference to the critical territory inside the twenty-yard line. As if going after the bad guys was no different from scoring a touchdown.

Shouldn’t be doing this, C.J., a small voice warned. This is cowboy stuff.

She silenced the voice. It was wrong. This was not cowboy stuff. It was cop stuff. It was what she did, what any cop would do who wasn’t a glorified paper pusher.

She advanced, treading silently, staying clear of the doorway. She reached the far wall and crept to the open door, the glow from the TV brightening as she approached.

The baby had quieted, its sobbing wails subsiding into hiccups. Hugging the door frame, C.J. listened for any other sound. She heard an electric hum-a fan or a refrigerator motor-and softly, a man’s voice.

“ Dios mio,” Sanchez was murmuring, “ Dios mio, Dios mio…”

The chant continued. The voice was low and close. Sanchez must be positioned near the bedroom. She couldn’t tell if he was facing her way or not.

There was only one way to go in, and she did it, pivoting through the doorway, staying low to make herself a smaller target.

Sanchez hadn’t seen her. He faced front, sitting in what looked like a rusty beach chair. No lights were on, and the only daylight came from the bedroom behind her. The room was illuminated solely by the shifting glow of a muted black-and-white TV resting on an apple crate. A car commercial flowed past in a ribbon of roadway vistas, and then a double-decker cheeseburger filled the screen.

The picture tube’s bluish light flickered over the sweaty nape of Sanchez’s neck, his loose shirt collar, and the curly-haired baby boy in diapers nestled in his lap.

C.J. took a quick survey of the living room. Mismatched odds and ends of furniture, an ironing table, a fake plant, a velvet painting of Jesus on the wall. No mirrors, no polished surfaces-nothing that might betray her by a reflection.

Her gaze circled back to Sanchez. With his left hand he stroked Emilio’s belly, calming the child. In his right hand he held his gun, a long-barreled revolver, maybe an old Colt or Smith-a six-shooter anyway, like a relic of the Wild West.

“ Dios mio… Dios mio…”

Emilio had ceased crying. It was Mr. Sanchez who was sobbing now.

C.J. almost called out to him, identifying herself again as the police, but if he panicked he might turn and fire, and she would be trapped in the doorway, unable to shoot back without endangering the baby.

She had to get the gun away from him.

The distance between herself and Sanchez was six feet. She could reach him in three short steps and snatch the gun.

Dangerous, but facing danger was what they paid her for, right?

C.J. moved forward, still bent low. She dragged her feet in a cautious slide-step, maintaining her balance, textbook high-risk-felony procedure.

One step. Two.

The revolver almost within reach.

Emilio screamed.

The baby had seen her coming, and his cry alerted Ramon Sanchez, who spun, rising, the revolver blurring toward her, and on pure instinct C.J. reached out with her free hand and grabbed it by the cylinder.

A revolver couldn’t fire if the cylinder was prevented from turning.

That was the theory, at least. The reality was that some revolvers-the ones that were old, damaged, defective-might fire anyway.

Past the gray shape of the gun she saw Ramon’s eyes, inflamed with weeping, big with rage.

“ Policia,” C.J. snapped. “ Suelte la arma.” Drop the weapon.

She could shoot him now. She could fire past Emilio, wrapped in Ramon’s left arm like a small pink shield-fire into the man’s abdomen or groin.

But if she did, he would try to fire back, if only in a reflex action. And his gun was pointed at her face from inches away, close enough for her to smell the lubricant on the muzzle.

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